To stop future flooding across North Galway from Corofin to Headford, and beyond, requires opening all 16 sluice gates on the River Corrib in Galway City from September to March according to a number of local representatives.
Co Councillors in the Oranmore/Athenry area are demanding that the office of Public Works (OPW) open the gates after all seven of them passed the motion from Claregalway’s Cllr Malachy Noone.
He also disputed figures for high and low water levels contained in a letter from the OPW read to their meeting yesterday (Tuesday) as he claimed there was a discrepancy of nine feet in the actual levels of Lough Corrib when compared with the measurements in the OPW letter.
“Why keep sluice gates closed and keep water levels so high, especially in winter, when there is no need for this for the navigation of boats?”
“They are treating Lough Corrib like a reservoir containing 45,000 acres of water and with the gates down it’s like filling a bath tub when you know it will overflow,” said Cllr Noone.
He also hit out at Galway City Council for having not moved a large water pipe at Terryland which he claimed is also contributing to flooding in the city and which he said “should have been moved 20 years ago,”
“I’m not blaming the OPW for that as they can’t change the pipe at Terryland but all they are doing by keeping down the sluice gates is extending the lake.”
“Last winter a contractor had to work in the middle of the night to raise the N84 (Galway-Headford road) and stop it from being closed by the flooding,” he added.
Cllr James Charity agreed. “It was surreal to see contractors out in the middle of the night raising that road to prevent it being closed by floods,” he said.
A letter from the OPW stated that “the extreme flood levels on Lough Corrib and Lough Mask experienced in December 2015 and January were the highest recorded levels on OPW records.
“I wish to confirm that all gates at Sluice Barrage were open by November 13th in advance of the flooding and remained open until March 16th” stated the OPW letter signed by Declan Coyle.
The low water levels maintained at “a minimum of 5.83 metres” mentioned in the letter were required for “the navigation of boats” and “for various head races of mills in the city’s canal network.” But this was disputed by Cllr Noone who also disputed that the high water level in the “lower lake” of 6.44 metres was important for a number of reasons including “long term weather forecasts” and “stakeholders interests”.
“We are elected by the people who are affected by the flooding and have as much a right as any stakeholders to demand the gates be opened. He also questioned the line about “long term weather forecasts” in a time of five days forecasts.
The councillors all signed the motion for the longer opening period every year to prevent a repeat of last year’s and previous year’s flooding.
“If the N17 wasn’t closed in 2009 by flooding at Claregalway we would still be looking for money for the River Clare drainage scheme,” concluded Cllr Noone.